The music of composer and conductor Luke Carlson (b. 1983) has been called “personal and strong” (New York Times), “magical”, and “otherworldly” (Philadelphia Inquirer). In reference to the string quartet Edges, the Times also noted that “this rhapsodic piece is by turns agitated, searching and plaintive,” and that “the piece has real narrative sweep.” Carlson composes for a wide variety of instrumental, vocal, electronic, and orchestral forces, through which he strives to create a listening experience of exciting intensity and profound beauty.

He is the recipient of the 2013 Jacob Druckman Prize, an orchestral commission (The Burnished Tide) from the Aspen Music Festival, premiered in Aspen under the direction of Robert Spano. Other recent honors include attending the 2016 Wellesley Composer’s Conference and 2016 Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy. In 2015, Carlson was selected to participate in the Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, which culminated in a performance of The Burnished Tide by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Joann Faletta. Carlson is also a two-time, first-prize recipient (2016 and 2014) of the MACRO Composer Competition, winner of the 2014 Network for New Music Caffeinated Composer Competition, and winner of the 2013 Network for New Music Third Space Student Composer Competition. In 2012, He was selected for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Ninth Annual Reading Session, where Corridors for orchestra was conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Academic accolades include the Hopkinson Fellowship (in recognition of “superlative academic performance”), George Crumb fellowship, Pottruck Graduate Prize, Hilda K. Nitzsche Prize (2012 and 2013), and the David Halstead Prize (2014) from the University of Pennsylvania. He also received multiple awards from the University of Oregon for outstanding scholarship in theory and composition.

Carlson’s music has been performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Daedalus String Quartet, Network for New Music, the Wellesley Composer’s Conference, musicians from the Cortona Sessions for New Music, the string trio Chartreuse, the Tenth Presbyterian Church Choir, Men’s Choir, and Chamber Players, as well as by pianist Lisa Moore, the Fireworks Ensemble, and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, New Frontiers Chamber Orchestra, and Rice Composer’s Orchestra have played his orchestral music and his compositions have been read and recorded by the Daedalus String Quartet and the new music ensemble, Relâche.

He was a composition fellow at the 2016 Wellesley Composer’s Conference where Creations for sinfonietta was performed by the Conference Musicians under the direction of James Baker. He studied with Mario Davidovsky, Jason Eckardt, and Carlos Sanch-Gutierrez. He also attended the 2016 Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy, where he studied with David Rakowski and received two world premieres. He was named winner of the 2016 Duo Cortona Prize, resulting in a future performance of Sound & Silence, by Rachel Calloway (voice) and Ari Streisfeld (vln.). In 2013, he attended the Aspen Music Festival, where his string quartet Edges was selected for performance on a subscription concert. He studied with Stephen Hartke, John Harbison, John Corigliano, Sydney Hodkinson, George Tsontakis, and the late Steven Stucky. He was also a two-time fellow of the Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium, where in 2007, Keys To The Machine was named one of the winners of the Composer’s Symposium Solo Piano Competition and was performed by pianist, Lisa Moore. The Bach Festival featured master classes and lessons with Osvaldo Golijov, Martin Bresnick, and George Crumb.

Born in Washington State in 1983, Luke Carlson grew up in Eugene, Oregon where he attended Lane Community College and the University of Oregon. He studied composition with Robert Kyr and David Crumb at the U of O and received his Bachelor of Music, magna cum laude, in 2007. He received his Master of Music (2010) at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he studied with Anthony Brandt, Karim Al-Zand, and Pierre Jalbert. He also taught music theory at Rice for the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program. In 2014, he received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He studied theory with Jairo Moreno, composition with Anna Weesner, Jay Reise, and James Primosch, and taught undergraduate music theory as part of his Benjamin Franklin Fellowship.

He is an active performer of both traditional and contemporary music, conducting several recent premieres of his own orchestral and chamber works. From 2014–15, he was the Interim Choir Director and Music Coordinator at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO, where he coordinates the entire theory and composition program. He also oversees the electronic studio and conducts the College of the Ozarks chamber orchestra. He lives in Hollister, MO with his wife Elizabeth.

Luke Carlson

Recent Highlights

Very honored to attend the Wellesley Composer’s Conference this past summer. I had tremendous fun sharing thoughts and ideas with my fellow composition fellows and working with composers Mario Davidovsky, Jason Eckardt, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez. I received an incredible premiere performance of Creations for sinfonietta by the conference musicians under the direction of James Baker.
Had a truly memorable time in Italy at the Cortona Sessions for New Music. Studied with David Rakowski, had two world premieres, and won the Duo Cortona Prize. Not to mention the opportunity to live and travel in Italy for two weeks. Working with the wonderful fellows and faculty was a joy, especially with the incomparable festival director, Michael Kirkendoll.
July 11–16
I had the priviledge of participating in the edward t. cone composition institute, which culminated in a performance of The Burnished Tide on July 16th. The performance was given by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta.